ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Houston Rockets put on another marvelous offensive show Friday against the Orlando Magic, just marvelous enough to overcome another abysmal defensive performance.
The Rockets hit 15 three-pointers, shot 54.5 percent from the field and scored more than 30 points in three of the four quarters ... and needed every bit of it to slide out of Orlando with a 118-110 victory over the hapless Magic.
James Harden led Houston with 24 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Chandler Parsons and Carlos Delfino had 21 points each and eight of the team's 15 3-pointers. Donatas Motiejunas had 17 points and Patrick Beverley added 13 points and six assists.
None of them had much to say about all that offense. They did have something to say about the other end of the floor.
"We've got to sharpen up defensively," Parsons said. "Honestly, it's just about effort. We've got to have all our focus on that end and once we get a few stops, we can do what we do best and get out in transition."
"Orlando shot the ball extremely well, we just had to get up in them and get a few stops," said Beverley, who was one of the few Rockets with any defensive effort. He had three steals and drew a charge in the fourth quarter to spark the winning rally.
"If I do get us started defensively, everything seems to fall in place offensively."
Rockets coach Kevin McHale couldn't have been less happy, despite the victory.
"We've got to get better defensively, there is no doubt about that," McHale said in a postgame press conference that lasted about 60 seconds. "That's three games in a row now where our defense has been very poor. We don't have a great rhythm right now."
By contrast, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn was upbeat, almost happy, despite his team losing for the 18th time in the last 20 games.
"Houston is a very tough team to guard and I thought our attention to detail at the defensive end was very good," Vaughn said. "If we just keep (James) Harden off the free-throw line, we give ourselves a chance to win this game."
Tobias Harris, acquired at the trade deadline from the Milwaukee Bucks, led the Magic with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Arron Affalo added 19 points and Nik Vucevic had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando.
The Magic led 100-98 after a Vucevic dunk with 5:11 left in the game, but went scoreless the next 3 minutes. Orlando committed nine turnovers in the fourth quarter, opening the door for a Rockets rally.
Beverley started it with a 3-pointer, then Harden contributed six points and one assist on the next four possessions and the Rockets ran off to a 109-100 lead.
Houston, which held only one opponent under 100 points in February, doesn't seem inclined to change things in March. The Rockets gave the Magic space inside and outside all night and that is the only reason the game was close.
The Rockets shot 55.9 percent for the first three periods of the game, including 12 of 25 from 3-point territory ... and still trailed a Magic team that has won four times in the last 11 weeks. The margin was only one point -- Orlando led 87-86 at the end of the third quarter -- but even a little defensive pressure and Houston could have been comfortably in front.
As has been their recent custom, the Rockets jumped off to a quick lead, but couldn't hold it. Houston hit its first five 3-point attempts of the game, including two each by Jeremy Lin and Parsons in jumping out to a 17-6 advantage three minutes into the game.
However, Orlando caught and passed the visitors by the end of the quarter as Nicholson and Harris consistently found opening in the lane. The two were a combined 6 for 9 from the field as Orlando shot 57.1 percent for the quarter and led 32-31.
The Rockets had 11 3-pointers by halftime, but the Magic still had Nicholson and Harris (13 points each) banging away inside and Houston was only able to get a 64-61 halftime lead.
Notes: Magic PG Jameer Nelson missed his fifth straight game with a leg injury. ... The Magic and Rockets have undergone more turnover than any two teams in the NBA this season. Nelson is the only active player on the Magic team that was with it at this point last season and Parsons and seldom-used Greg Smith are the only Rockets still with their team. "If that was ideal, you'd have 30 teams doing it," McHale said. ... Lin has played a regular season game against all 30 teams in the NBA. The Magic has seen Lin in the preseason, but never in the regular season before Friday night. ... Houston blew 17-point leads in its two previous games, losing to the Bucks and Washington Wizards. ... Harris, the second-year player obtained from Milwaukee in the J.J. Redick trade, averaged 17.7 points and shot 67.7 percent (21 of 31) in his first three games for the Magic.